The interview of Metropolitan Emmanuel of France in the newspaper “To Vima” is focusing on the issue of the Ecumenical Patriarchate granting autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
In the interview, Metropolitan Emmanuel, to whom the Ecumenical Patriarch entrusted the very delicate handling of the current crisis, points out that the Ecumenical Patriarchate has granted autocephaly to the Church of Ukraine with the sole purpose of “treating the schism that for many years has been tormenting the Orthodox people of the country.”
As he pointed out, granting autocephaly to a local church is a spiritual event not only for its believers, but for all orthodoxy. It is not an act of revenge or punishment of one Church towards another.
Moreover, Metropolitan Emmanuel notes, “The Ecumenical Patriarchate always takes care of every people and every local Church, with the same love and respect. The Russian people who has received the holy baptism from Constantinople knows that and so does the Church of Russia, which is flesh of the flesh of the Mother Church and its autocephaly was granted by it”.
Replying to another question, he states that “The Ecumenical Patriarchate acted solely in the interest of the Orthodox believers of Ukraine. It did not act on its own interests or under political pressure, and was certainly not influenced by political antagonisms and geopolitical interests.”
Regarding the possibility of an “ecclesiastic civil war” between the autocephalous church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Christians who still want to be under Moscow, Metropolitan Emmanuel underlined that history shows that the Ukrainian people has never moved away from the mother church of Constantinople.
“Throughout the 20th century, the Ukrainian people has repeatedly turned to the Ecumenical Patriarchate asking for autocephaly, and for the past 30 years its appeals have become more frequent and intense. For its part, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has never disregarded the Ukrainian people, which loves Jesus Christ, and had always been watching its course and the difficulties it faced, especially after 1991, when the ecclesiastical division in the country became larger,” said the Metropolitan of France.
Finally, Metropolitan Emmanuel stated that the desire of the “Mother Church was to deal with the ongoing issue and to benefit the entire Ukrainian Orthodox people with the Autocephaly.”
He also added that the primate of the newly-established Church of Ukraine, Metropolitan Epiphanius of Kiev and the Hierarchy, “are proceeding as the Patriarch encouraged them to, under the spirit of love and peace for all, without any exception or distinction.”